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Council workers fear job losses

COUNCIL workers fear they might lose their jobs or be downgraded when a cabinet-style system starts in May.

At an executive meeting last Tuesday, the Labour Group put forward its modernising strategy which includes a proposal to replace the chief executive of Gravesham Council with a full-time leader of the council.

But council workers think the move could lead to a staff reshuffle and redundancies.

And Tory councillors feel the move will lead to a “highly politicised system” and argue a mayor elected by residents would be more democratic.

The decision to have a full-time and paid leader of the council is one of three options put forward by the Government for modernising local government.

The other two options are having an elected mayor and cabinet or having an elected mayor and council manager who would act like the present chief executive.

Peter Price, the Unison representative at Gravesham Council, said: “Council workers fear a reshuffle will take place if the chief executive is replaced by a full-time leader of the council. They need to be reassured there will be no redundancies.

Mr Price added: “I also want to make sure there is an impartial body to deal with appeals and grievances and that staff are informed about the allocation of responsibilities.”

And Leader of the Tories in Gravesham, Michael Snelling, believes the public would not like to know that a highly qualified chief executive is being replaced by a “biased leader of the council”.

He said: “I think a mayor who is elected by residents would be much better than a full-time council leader.”

Chief Executive of the council, Eddie Anderson, and his deputy, John Bennett, are retiring in May and that is when the new cabinet system will start.

But leader of the council, Rosemary Leadley, says she wants to reassure staff the move will not affect other council workers' jobs.

“Middle managers have no need to be worried about the move because if anything they will have more responsibility as a result of the changes.

“We are taking a cautious approach and there will be consultation soon.”

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